Our family has homeschooled for many years. My dear wife and I both always have carried differing classes. At first, I did most of the teaching; for years now, that's been her ministry, with me picking up other classes such as English and Bible. But when I'm taking on a new course, I always ask that Valerie get the teacher's guide to the course. Primarily I need it because it's a big time-saver. They aren't inerrant, of course; sometimes I have to correct their answers. But on balance, having a Teacher's Guide is a huge help.
You know right where I'm going with this: in Bible, we have the Teacher's Guide. Literally. Is it not so?
Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! (Psalm 119:12)There are countless ramifications of this, literally countless. But I want to stay at the universal level, the level of principle.
When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes! (Psalm 119:26)
Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! (Psalm 119:29)
The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. (Psalm 119:160)
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)
"Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:17)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
We've been handed the Teacher's Guide, so to speak. What this means is that Christianity isn't the conclusion of a series of deductions leading to open conclusions, per se. It isn't the conclusion of a syllogism. It is revelation, and the Christian starts his thinking with that revelation. If it isn't covered by the revelation ("Wonder what the trout are biting on today?"), he works it out. But if it is ("Wonder if I should cheat on my wife today?"), then he knows what's in the Teacher's Guide.
That means that, if I'm working on a dandy, shiny, impressive, lovely theory or hypothesis, and then get T-boned by the clear teaching of Scripture, I bail on my theory. No matter how much I loved it, what admiration it would earn me, what applause and kudo's — I bail on it. No matter how much the world would prefer it to the old Christian answer — I bail on it. No matter how much better-feeling sense it made to me that the Biblical position — I bail on it.
What's so bemusing is when a man or woman professes to be a Christian — which is to say, someone who agrees with Jesus that the Bible is the Teacher's Guide — approaches issues like a non-Christian.
You have an idea or attitude about something, but you find the Bible doesn't reflect it. What you should do is say "Rats, I see the answer's different than mine. I must have worked it through wrong. Better start over."
All but two of you are nodding. You're thinking of safe things, and you're right. For instance, if a professed Christian says, "Because of X, Y and Z, I just don't see why women can't be pastors."
So here's where Christian thinking — the thinking of a disciple (= student), of a slave — would note the answer in the teacher's guide: they can't. And here is where Christian thinking would say, "Evidently not. I must have done the math wrong. Start over." And a Christian would work it through until his answer matched the answer in the Teacher's Guide, knowing that in this case the TG is in fact inerrant.
Ditto homosexuality. Ditto the moral imperative of wives to subordinate themselves to their husbands, of children to their parents; of parents to love, train, discipline their children. Ditto church-attendance. Ditto the Gospel. Ditto eschatology. Ditto ecclesiology, anthropology, geohistory, abortion, and on and on.
Before we close in prayer, though: don't feel too safe about this. Again and again on this blog we've had commenters, confronted with some Biblical teaching they don't like, say "Because of ABC, I think Blort." To which the Christian answer would be, "Evidently not." With such intelligent reasons, often it's "Because of ABCDEFGHIJ, I think Ba-zink." Still, the answer should be, "Evidently not."
Take the thread I linked above. I am absolutely positive that, reading this, many folks' reaction was, "Because of [my very complicated theories of Christian living], I think we shouldn't talk about slavery and obedience to commands and such." One fellow left a church I pastored for that very reason: his theory of Christian living did not allow for apostolic commands being apostolic commands which God expects us to obey.
So, rather than revising his position to match the one in the Teacher's Guide, he ran off to find another church.
Confronted with a Biblical phenomenon that doesn't match our theory, the Christian response should be, "Evidently not." That is, in this case — as I pointed out in that post and many other times — clearly God the Holy Spirit has no problem whatever moving apostles to issue commands to Christians, and calling Christians to obey. That's in the Teacher's Guide.
So if a Christian sees that phenomenon, and sees it clashes with his theories of Christian living or anything else, he should say, "Evidently I did the math wrong. Start over!" And he should re-work it until his answer matches the Teacher's Guide.
So in closing I say: do that.